“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” – Jesus in Luke 6:26-28

To discover what people who do not go to church think about people who do go to church, I had six focus groups gathered by a professional moderator in three major U.S. cities who recorded their conversations with their permission. Admittedly, sprinkled among these negative comments were occasional positive remarks about a specific aspect of Christianity or acts done by Christians. But these comments were few and often subdued. One participant noted that she held mixed feelings despite having a relatively positive experience with Christianity in the past:

“I think of a lot of my former friends because I used to be involved in the church. A lot of my former friends are more like, I don’t know, medium-tempered Christians. That was my experience with it, so I think of them. My first reaction is like, ‘Oh, my old friends. I wonder how they’re doing.’ It was a part of my past so it’s almost close to me—but part of me is also—because of my history with it—it’s like half ick.”

Then there were decidedly negative thoughts about Christianity, like this comment from a woman in Austin:

“I feel it’s very stifling and it’s not very open, and it was almost designed to be a group of people to go against a lot of other types of faiths. I think a lot of times Christianity is just this overarching thing that is almost like something to be scared of because of what the Christian church has done…. It breeds hate and intolerance and fear. You’re teaching children that if you mess up you go to hell. You’re teaching people to help other people so that you don’t go to hell and to ostracize people.”

She continued,

“I think when you go into a place that Christianity is the major influence, it’s not that everyone is super nice and sweet and friendly and living the way that Jesus taught you. I don’t think that Jesus really even has that much to do with Christianity now. I think that a lot of times, it’s judgment, and that people who have nowhere else to go to answer these questions. Instead of looking inside themselves, they look for authority in the church. I think that it gives people an excuse to be hateful to other people and to feel like they’re better than them…. And the rules of how they treat women too—it’s very overwhelming and I think that’s why Christianity almost seems like this dark cloud to me when I hear it.”

The responses from the other focus groups for men and women in other places were similar. Christianity was “a turn off” and “a bunch of rules.” Others said, “Conversion, coercion, it’s the same.” One added, “It’s like radical Muslims in that there’s no talking to them. Nothing is up for discussion.”


Another common assumption that emerged in every group is that Christianity is intellectually inferior to other beliefs. As Daniel in San Francisco said:

“Where are these people coming from? Where are we drawing these Christians from? Is it from here? Is it from Missouri? I guess what I’m saying is that the label itself is almost meaningless. Unless we were talking about the average American Christian, which I see as… they’re white people. They’re from the middle of the country. They have not very progressive views. They have probably very regressive views about social and cultural issues. I’d say they’re probably less intellectual, less curious, less affluent. Those are all the things that I think about when I think about the average American Christian.”

When it came to making decisions, participants argued that Christians are unable to think for themselves:

One man in San Francisco said, “I don’t care what [the Bible] is telling you to do. What do you feel internally? What do you actually believe, and then go with that. Be true to yourself. Screw this whole other higher power that you think is telling you to do something. I want you to do what you feel is right.”

In Phoenix a woman said: “They’re [Christians] saying that this is the authority, this is the one in charge. How can that be when ultimately it’s my decision and I’m in charge of my own self, my own choices?”

A man in Phoenix said: “A lot of people lean on religion, or Christianity to say, ‘Christianity told me that I can’t commit sins, I shouldn’t adulterize [sic], I shouldn’t murder, and I shouldn’t steal,’ and that kind of thing. I don’t feel, for me personally, that I need that to tell me, the religion or Christianity to tell me, that I shouldn’t be doing these things.”

And getting right to the point, another woman in Austin said: “In Christianity you’re essentially closing off your common sense and closing down your ability to think and you’re worshiping an idea or a book or a thought. Christianity itself is based on the idea that you can’t trust yourself because you are bad. Common sense, your primal feelings, your primal actions, your primal desires can’t be trusted.”

The conversations occasionally dripped with academic snobbery, including a man in Boston who said of most Americans who identify as Christians:

“I bet we’re all college educated. I don’t want to say all of us, but some of us have beyond college educations. The average American is not college educated. College education equates to 25 percent of the population. Seventy-five percent have not gone to college. The vast majority are idiots.”

How should Christians respond to a world that thinks we are immoral idiots? That is the complex question for our troubled times.

This series of 30 daily devotions are adapted from the first chapters of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s new book “Christians Might Be Crazy” available exclusively at markdriscoll.org for a tax-deductible gift to Mark Driscoll Ministries. For your gift of any amount, we will email you a digital copy of the book (available worldwide) and also send you a paperback copy of the book (U.S. residents only). Pastor Mark also has a corresponding six-part sermon series that you can find for free at markdriscoll.org or on the free Mark Driscoll Ministries app. Thank you in advance for your partnership which helps people learn that It’s All About Jesus! For our monthly partners who give a recurring gift each month, this premium content will be automatically sent.

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